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Manage To The Results Not The Metrics

March 16, 2018

You’re expected to make 100 calls per day.


Because if you don’t make at least 100 outbound calls you don’t get paid.

Okay. . .but, why?

What does your company do? I work for a call center. I’m in IT. My job is to make sure the computers stay running. But, that’s not what my company does. My company doesn’t even answer phone calls. Sure, that’s a metric, but it’s not a result. We measure our success by satisfied customers. If I took 50 calls but everyone was mad when I got done, is that preferable taking 40 calls, but everyone is pleased when they hang up with me?

I hope you said no.

As managers we often confuse metrics with results.

I have a good friend who drives about 2500 miles per week. He’s a blood courier. He literally picks up blood from one location and drives it to another location. I call him a blood-runner. But, you can just say he “deals in blood.” The point is my friend spends a lot of time in his car. It’s an easy to measure metric. He can tell you how many miles he drove on a particular day. He can tell you how many hours he spent in his car that day. (He probably would prefer you not do the math to figure out the miles per hour.)

But, my friend’s job is not to drive a certain number of miles per week. His job isn’t to spend a certain number of hours on on the road. His job is literally to get lifesaving blood to the places that need it most. Suppose he was supposed to drive from Salt Lake City to Boise, ID. Google maps thinks it is 345 miles and will take 5 hours and 1 minute. Now, suppose he picked up the blood in SLC, drove North for exactly 5 hours and then turned around and came back?

Did he do his job? Of course not. He spent the time, he drove the miles (minus the last one) but he didn’t get the blood to where it needed to go.

The key to breaking out of the “manage by metric” mold is to figure out what it is you do and what it is that your team members do. In project management it’s called figuring out “what does success look like?”

Once you figure out what it is that you and your team does, then you can think about pertinent metrics. Chances are they aren’t what you think.

I worked for a manager one time who had a tough time figuring this out. We were a project manager team. We worked with people all across the company running projects. We even had team members in other parts of the world. Project Managers were the glue that held the virtual teams together. We literally could be on the phone at any time of the night or day.

My manager picked “time logged into the phone system” as one of his key metrics. And not total time on the phone, but where you physically logged into the phone between the hours of 7:30 and 2:30. Oh, and you could only log into the phone from your desk phone.

No amount of discussion could convince him that phone time was not a metric that was a key indicator of our success. In fact, we had one team members who logged into his phone and then headed up to the 7th floor to visit with his buddies to discuss their March Madness bracket. But, he got good reviews because he logged into the phone at 7:30am.

I have friends in sales. Imagine you run an outbound sales team. Their job is to make 100 calls per day. You’ve done the math and you know that if they make 100 calls they will get 30 people willing to listen to a sales presentation. Out of those 30, you’ll get 4 sales. It’s just basic numbers and it all starts with that century mark of calls.

Now, consider Mark. You notice that Mark is only making 60 calls per day. You’re about ready to fire him, but you decide to coach him and see if he can boost his numbers to the acceptable level.

Mark, thanks for stopping by. I’ll get right to the point. Your call numbers are way down. If we can’t get them back in the acceptable range I’m going to have to let you go.


Because, when I hired you I explained that the minimum acceptable effort was 100 calls per day.

No, I mean, why 100?

We’ve been over this. One hundred, thirty and four. Our entire business model is based on volume and it starts with contacts.

Have you looked at my close numbers?

No, that’s Paul’s department.


Twelve what?

My calls lead to 12 sales per day.

That’s not the point.

I thought you just said that was the point. How I work my call sheets is leading to three times the results of anyone else here.

That may be, but how can I hold everyone else to 100 calls if I let you skate with 60% of that? What are the other guys on the team going to say?

Who cares? Tell them to take a little more time to get to know the contact like I do and maybe they’ll get a better conversion rate.

Okay, fine. Let’s go your route. You’re saying that with just 60 calls you can get three times the rate the other guys are getting with 100 calls, right?


Okay, what I’m hearing is that if you actually put in the effort of making 100 calls which is in your employment contract you would actually make 20 sales per day. So, your sluffing off and only putting in 60% effort is costing the company 8 lost sales per day.

You know what happened, of course. Mark went back to making 100 calls per day and getting 4 sales.

Manage to the results, not the metric.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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